Getting to the business end of our short season 

180806 3 Katherine on anchor Cala De Palos

Katherine on Anchor Sunset Cabo De Palos 

180807 1 Geoff and Julie onboard Cartagena

Our change over of guests in Alicante created a new record - around 6 hours! Julie and Geoff, friends originally from Darwin, were visiting their son in London so squeezed in two nights away to join us in Spain. 

Leaving Alicante mid morning after they had had an opportunity to do a brisk walk to the castle and take in the views of Alicante we headed south to the anchorage of Punta Del Cabo De Palos around 40nm south. Here we met again Bernard and Beate who were anchored onboard their catamaran Aurora. It was great to give Julie and Geoff an opportunity to experience anchoring out, swimming, paddle boarding and taking in a magic sunset with sailing friends. 

161016 4 Touring Cartagena with Charo Ian and Bruce Roman Theatre

Bernard had assured us that there was good holding in the bay - he forgot to mention that it was super strong “Boulder Holding” During the evening with light winds we drifted around on our anchor and managed to wrap the chain around the only coral bommy to be found in our vicinity. It took Bernard and Andrew in the water doing a synchronised swim routine of instruction to Lee on the helm to eventually release the tangled anchor chain and let us get underway. 

Our next evening was spent back in the marina of Cartagena enabling us to take Julie and Geoff out to wander the streets of Cartagena at night and to share food from some of our favourite Spanish Tapa Bars. With an afternoon flight on the Wednesday back to London they barely had time to scratch the surface of things to experience in Cartagena but we were pleased they squeezed in a visit to the very impressive Roman Theatre Ruins in the centre of the city and got to spend a little bit of time with us on board Katherine. 

180811 1 Sunset Cabo De Gato near Almeria

On Anchor Sunset Cabo De Gato

180814 7 Melilla La Vieja Fortification180814 8 Melilla Palacio De Asamblea Art Decor Building

So with our  visitors all gone we were down to the business end of our season. First on the list sail to Morocco in the North of Africa. As Katherine is registered as an Australian boat we need to sail her out of European waters every 18 months and have our paperwork stamped. If we fail to do this then we are at risk of the boat being charged the VAT of the country in which we are residing. VAT in most countries is sitting at 22% plus so that is a lot of boat maintenance and mooring that we do not wish to unnecessarily part with. 

180814 10 Ensenada de los Galapagos180814 11 Melilla Port

Last year as we were returning from Sicily we headed to the port of Bizerte in Tunisia. This year we opted to sail across the Alboran sea to the Moroccan town of Saidia stopping first in the Spanish enclave of Melilla. The 12 square kilometres that make up Melilla have belonged to Spain since it fell to the Spanish in 1497 despite a long history of attack and attempted sieges. Today in an effort to stop the wave of African immigrants from illegally entering Europe the border of Melilla is surrounded by a double fence of barbed wire and heavily patrolled by the Civil Guardia. Thankfully our view of Melilla was far removed from the struggle of the border control. 

Melilla itself is a time capsule of “Modernisme and Art Nouveau.” During its period of prosperity as a vital port link to Spain from Morocco, development of an area called “The Golden triangle” was undertaken in the early 1900’s. In this area many of the new buildings that were designed and built were overseen by an Architect called Enrique Nieto, who had been a student of Gaudis and worked along side him on Casa Mila in Barcelona. The short walk that we undertook in Melilla we were most impressed. More time as always was needed to be able to fully explore the “Golden Triangle” but after a full days sail we were happy to wander the fortification, and take in the buildings we could see from along the foreshore before finding a comfortable seat in a cosy cafe overlooking the marina. 

180813 2 A first sailing into Saidia Morocco

A first - flying the Moroccan Courtesy Flag 

180813 3 And Andrew is off with the official part to the office Saidia

Saidia in Morocco was where we chose to overnight to complete our paperwork The officials were literally on the dock on our arrival and all processes including our boat inspection were completed quickly, efficiently and happily. We certainly would recommend this as a port through which to process your boat. 

Saidia sits along what is said to be the longest stretch of white sand beach in Morocco - some 15kms. Apparently in 2010 the King of Morocco launched a development plan for the area focusing on turning it into a tourist destination with five full scale seaside resorts. 

180813 4 Jetski central - 100euro for 1 hr

Eight years on we can see that Saidia with its large marina and neighbouring shopping complex must have looked impressive at one time but today only a handful of shops remain the rest lie empty and decaying. Though the shopping centre by the marina lacked life the harbour itself was packed with the most number of jet skis we have ever seen in one place. Literally hundreds were on hire for up to 100 euro for an hour, and there was no slow in the flow of the jet skis heading out. This was in such sharp contrast to the contractors Andrew had spoken to who advised that they would be lucky to make a 100 euro in a month so certainly would not be taking to a jet ski any time soon. 

180815 2 Loan Fishing Boat when returning from Melilla to Spain Mainland

Fishing Boat as we motored out of Melilla back to Spain

180815 7 Dolphins returning Melilla to Spain Mainland

We returned to Melilla overnight before making an early start back to mainland Spain. Despite a very still start to the morning the breeze finally came in and we had a great sail back making just over 120nm in 14 hours. The highlight of the day were definitely the dolphins. We have had dolphin encounters over the years but never quite like this. We could see the dolphins approaching on mass across the water and then they stayed and played off the bow of our boat for hours. It was very special. 

180817 2  Anchorage Ensanda De Mazarron Sails down180821 2 Katherine Packed and ready to leave

Our final two nights on anchor we chose two bays on route back to Cartagena, Cala De San Pedro and Punta De La Azohia near Mazaron and just 10nm from Cartagena. In our last anchorage we took the opportunity to drop all our sails on the deck in preparation for leaving. Seeing the sails on the deck was definitely a reality check that our sailing for this season had come to an end.

Though a short season it certainly has been a busy one. We certainly have continued to grow our love for all things Spanish and will find it hard next year to sail away from these shores. 

But there is more out there to discover and if all goes to plan we will be sailing new grounds next sailing season.

As always we can’t wait. 

(Click for more photos)

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain